Come for the wine, stay for the music at Stark Wines’ grand opening

Clockwise from left: Todd Lind, Judith Kissner, Michael Tessneer, Molly Bernhagen, Mark Kissner, Angie Lind and Ann Tessneer raise their glasses in cheers to Stark Wines at a recent open house in the new wine tasting building. Photo by Jon Tatting

By Jon Tatting

Out near the vineyard, Stark Wines is ready to host a celebration inside their fresh, new wine tasting building made of Grand Marais timber and local talent.

Join Michael and Ann Tessneer in sampling their wine while relaxing to Bradley Mariska on the piano, music by Kenny Krona and Gwen Anderson and a little ‘40 jazz by One for Daddio at the winery’s grand opening on Saturday, May 12 from noon to 7 p.m. at 43150 Blackhawk Rd., a mile west of Stark.

Featured artist Stacy Mross will have her photography on display, and City Center Market is catering.

The Tessneers have been busy since “raising the timbers” last year with family and friends on their wine tasting structure. They’ve also doubled their wine production from 300-350 cases last year to about 800 this year.

The demand is there for their locally grown and produced wine. Their top sellers are rhubarb, blueberry, raspberry and apple. Also available is their Frontenac Gris, though people will have to wait on the Marquette, which is aging and won‘t be ready until mid to late summer.

M. Tessneer noted they have sold more than half of their stock of various wines to local liquor stores in cities including Isanti, Cambridge, North Branch, Rush City, Pine City, Mora and up north in Duluth and Grand Marais. “They ask for it once they hear the story,” he said of stores desiring Minnesota grown and produced wine selections.

As the story goes, the Tessneers are transforming their homespun winery from one of modest beginnings to something of sophistication with local food growers and the community in mind. Their new wine tasting building consists of three floors including a loft and about 240 white pine timbers from Grand Marais — where a group of family and friends last year chiseled away on the timbers at the North House Folk School. They later reunited at the winery for a “raising of the timbers.”

Since then, Stark Wines has continued to rely on local talent in finishing the wine tasting structure, from its cabinetry to the attractive bar area. The Tessneers have also relied on area fruit growers to increase their batch size.

Beginning this weekend, Stark Wines will be open on weekends until December. Groups may also call ahead for special events and tastings. For more information, visit Stark Wines on Facebook or The winery can be reached at 651-674-7548 or [email protected]

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